14 Months In; Still Cooking Alone. But with muffins comes a little more hope…

So far, 2021 has brought supreme disappointment, isolation, and the death of my 12 year old parakeet. Romeo’s whole purpose in his bird life was to keep me company, and he did an amazing job of it, all the way til the bitter end. Now my space is filled with the high pitched sounds of a baby parakeet learning to use his voice and discovering how delightful it is to yell and yell and yell again about absolutely nothing. He doesn’t know his name yet, and he appears to have the common sense typical of a human baby (as in, none whatsoever!).

If Romeo had been capable of complex thought, he would have wanted me to get a new bird to keep me company when he died. And I find that hopeful. I can sit around feeling miserable and lonely because we’re 14 months into a global pandemic, but for just a moment, I can put myself into the mindset of a baby parakeet. His world is good and interesting; every new day brings something new to learn and something new to chew on with his sharp little beak. Every day he tries out his yelling voice and his singing voice, and recently he’s been making an annoying noise that can only be classified as similar to the grating call of a guinea hen. Everything is good and interesting to him because he doesn’t know any different.

And so I tell myself that it’s ok to be heartbroken about the world 14 months in, as long as I remember that I can be hopeful and heartbroken at the same time. There aren’t many new places to go, or new people to smile at. I miss Romeo. But there are small new things, like a new muffin recipe. As the world dreams of reopening, if I can focus on taking it one muffin recipe at a time, one baby parakeet at a time, one hopeful wish at a time, then the heartbreak and isolation gets easier.

My new bird’s name is Remus. He has the legacy of a really good (but fictional) teacher, a werewolf, and the myth of the founding of Rome. He has an R to honor Romeo. And he’s full of the blind optimism of a new being.

It’s time to try lots of new things, even if they’re just new muffins. This recipe makes a dozen truly delightful muffins, so let’s get started.

Contains eggs, dairy, and gluten.

For these FABULOUS banana muffins with crumble topping, all you need is some pantry staples and a couple bananas. No electric mixer needed.

You will need…

1 ½ cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

approx 3 ripe bananas for a total of approx 1 ½ cups of banana

¾ cup sugar

1 egg, prefer XL size egg

5 and a bit tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

And for the crumble:

generous ¼ cup brown sugar

1/8 cup flour

¼ tsp cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

2 tbsp butter (or the remainder of the stick you used in the batter)

Note: If you are planning to freeze these to enjoy later, you may want to omit the nutmeg. The nutmeg will taste much stronger after being frozen and defrosted, which makes the muffins taste less balanced and more spice-forward.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a cupcake tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl that will ultimately be for all of the batter, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.

Melt the butter. Mash the bananas with a fork.

In another bowl, beat together wet ingredients including the bananas.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Do not over-mix.

To make the crumble, combine the dry ingredients, and then cut the butter into them.

Fill the cupcake tin with the batter – this made exactly a dozen cupcakes for me. Then top each carefully with the crumble. Try to avoid spilling extra crumble on the tin because it will burn on while in the oven and make it much harder to clean the tin later on.

Bake for approx 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the muffins.

Bon appetit!

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